About Us

GLY2250 students in the fieldAppalachian Geological and Environmental Sciences (aGES) provides a solid foundation for a successful career in the Earth and Environmental Sciences. We have one of the nation’s largest undergraduate-only departments that focuses exclusively on Earth and the Environment. Many of our faculty are internationally-recognized experts in their fields of research. They have conducted research on all seven continents, in over 50 countries, from the peaks of the Himalayas to the bottom of the Pacific seafloor.

Special privileges, such as dedicated computer facilities, 24/7 student access to a variety of labs (all aGES students get keys to the building), and the world-class natural setting of the Boone region make Appalachian State University a great place to study the Earth and Environmental Sciences. Close personal interactions between faculty and students provide many opportunities for independent research; we actively involve our undergraduate students in research, and many students typically author or co-author presentations at regional, national and international meetings, and publish peer-reviewed manuscripts with faculty members in top-tier journals. Explore more about the research our faculty are doing at https://earth.appstate.edu/research.

You can also stay up to date with us via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

What should I major in?

"Isn't geology just about rocks?"

"I want to study environmental science but I hate math and science!"

Many students come into our program a bit confused as to what the geosciences and environmental sciences actually are.  Click here for a detailed explanation between the different degree tracks within the geosciences and environmental sciences here at Appalachian. This page will help guide you to the degree track that is right for you - either in this department or in a different department.

Ask A Geologist

Got a geologic question you need answered? Ask A Geologist!

Did you find something that puzzled you in your backyard or on top of a mountain? Have questions about local environmental problems? Want to know about what's going on in Boone Creek, the Watauga River, and the New River? Concerned about fracking in your region? Do you have a mineral that you can't identify? Think you found a meteorite? We will do our best to answer any geological/environmental question. We also have pages that answer some of our most frequently asked questions.

What's so special about our department?

About Our Programs

The Appalachian State University Geological and Environmental Sciences Department provides students with a solid foundation on which to build a successful career in the geosciences and environmental sciences. We are the largest undergraduate geosciences department in the UNC system, and we have been successful in establishing a program that is arguably among the best Bachelor degree programs in geology available in the southeastern United States. 

The Geology program offers both a BA and BS in Geology, with the option of concentrations in:

Our program also offers a BS in Environmental Sciences, with the option of concentrating in Environmental Policy.

See our What should I major in? page to determine if our programs are right for you!


If you're not yet sure you want to major in Geology or Environmental Science, take one (or more) of our many General Education classes - learn about water resources, dinosaurs, oceanography, natural disasters, energy resources, fossils, and of course... rocks.  According to Slate, "Introductory Geology classes are the best science electives" and we certainly agree!

We study more than just rocks.

Geology is about more than just rocks.

Environmental Science is about more than just ecology, policy, or regulations.

What is Geology?

Our faculty have expertise in all fields of the Earth and Environmental sciences.

Click on our each of our research programs below to see what we do!


What processes affect water supply and quality?

researchers in river

Hydrology and Environmental Geology Research Group:


What do fossils tell us?

bone microscopy image

Paleontology Research Group:


What do landforms tell us? How do humans influence landscapes?

Surface processes

Surface Processes Research Group


What do the minerals in rocks tell us? What is the role they play in the environment?

mineral microscopy image

Mineralogy, Petrology, and Geochemistry Research Group:


How is Earth's climate recorded in minerals, rocks, sediment, water, and ice? How has climate changed through time?

Records of Climate Change

Records of Climate Change Research Group:


Latest News

Landslide Hazards in Boone - the Watauga Democrat interviews Dr. Ellen Cowan

Landslide hazards: Hidden in plain sight?  The Watauga Democrat interviews Dr. Ellen Cowan about landslide hazards in the High Country.Read more....

Dr. Steve Hageman receives Fulbright to study global warming’s effects in the polar Arctic

Dr. Steve Hageman will be spending fall semester in Poland at the  Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences on a Fulbr...

Appalachian Geology and Environmental Sciences at the XXV Aurora Fossil Festival

On Saturday May 26th, AppState GES joined other educational institutions from the southeast to celebrate the 25th edition of the Aurora Fossil Festiva...

aGES student Jacob Pratt receives Society of Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) scholarship

Junior Jacob Pratt (BS Geology) recently received a Society of Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) Carolinas/Georgia Section Scholarship for St...

Two aGES students receiving funding from the Explorers Club for research

Congratulations to aGES students Olivia Paschall, a senior geology major, and Allison Dombrowski, a sophomore geology major, who received Explorers Cl...